About the lab

Molecular Basis of Cell Cycle Regulation
Asymmetric Cell Division and Pluripotency
Cancer Biology and Therapy

Featured research (4)

Alteration of centrosome function and dynamics results in major defects during chromosome segregation and is associated with primary autosomal microcephaly (MCPH). Despite the knowledge accumulated in the last few years, why some centrosomal defects specifically affect neural progenitors is not clear. We describe here that the centrosomal kinase PLK1 controls centrosome asymmetry and cell fate in neural progenitors during development. Gain- or loss-of-function mutations in Plk1, as well as deficiencies in the MCPH genes Cdk5rap2 (MCPH3) and Cep135 (MCPH8), lead to abnormal asymmetry in the centrosomes carrying the mother and daughter centriole in neural progenitors. However, whereas loss of MCPH proteins leads to increased centrosome asymmetry and microcephaly, deficient PLK1 activity results in reduced asymmetry and increased expansion of neural progenitors and cortical growth during mid-gestation. The combination of PLK1 and MCPH mutations results in increased microcephaly accompanied by more aggressive centrosomal and mitotic abnormalities. In addition to highlighting the delicate balance in the level and activity of centrosomal regulators, these data suggest that human PLK1, which maps to 16p12.1, may contribute to the neurodevelopmental defects associated with 16p11.2–p12.2 microdeletions and microduplications in children with developmental delay and dysmorphic features.
The AKT-mTOR pathway is a central regulator of cell growth and metabolism. Upon sustained mTOR activity, AKT activity is attenuated by a feedback loop that restrains upstream signaling. However, how cells control the signals that limit AKT activity is not fully understood. Here we show that MASTL/Greatwall, a cell-cycle kinase that supports mitosis by phosphorylating the PP2A/B55 inhibitors ENSA/ARPP19, inhibits PI3K-AKT activity by sustaining mTORC1- and S6K1-dependent phosphorylation of IRS1 and GRB10. Genetic depletion of MASTL results in an inefficient feedback loop and AKT hyperactivity. These defects are rescued by expression of phospho-mimetic ENSA/ARPP19 or inhibition of PP2A/B55 phosphatases. MASTL is directly phosphorylated by mTORC1, thereby limiting the PP2A/B55-dependent dephosphorylation of IRS1 and GRB10 downstream of mTORC1. Downregulation of MASTL results in increased glucose uptake in vitro and increased glucose tolerance in adult mice, suggesting the relevance of the MASTL-PP2A/B55 kinase-phosphatase module in controlling AKT and maintaining metabolic homeostasis.
Full differentiation potential along with self-renewal capacity is a major property of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). However, the differentiation capacity frequently decreases during expansion of PSCs in vitro. We show here that transient exposure to a single microRNA, expressed at early stages during normal development, improves the differentiation capacity of already-established murine and human PSCs. Short exposure to miR-203 in PSCs (miPSCs) induces a transient expression of 2C markers that later results in expanded differentiation potency to multiple lineages, as well as improved efficiency in tetraploid complementation and human-mouse interspecies chimerism assays. Mechanistically, these effects are at least partially mediated by direct repression of de novo DNA methyltransferases Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b, leading to transient and reversible erasure of DNA methylation. These data support the use of transient exposure to miR-203 as a versatile method to reset the epigenetic memory in PSCs, and improve their effectiveness in regenerative medicine.
Full differentiation potential along with self-renewal capacity is a major property of pluripotent stem cells (PSCs). However, the differentiation capacity frequently decreases during expansion of PSCs in vitro. We show here that transient exposure to a single microRNA, expressed at early stages during normal development, improves the differentiation capacity of already-established murine and human PSCs. Short exposure to miR-203 in PSCs (miPSCs) results in expanded differentiation potency as well as improved efficiency in stringent assays such as tetraploid complementation and human-mouse interspecies chimerism. Mechanistically, these effects are mediated by direct repression of de novo DNA methyltransferases Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b, leading to transient and reversible erasing of DNA methylation. As a proof of concept, miR-203 improves differentiation and maturation of PSCs into cardiomyocytes in vitro as well as cardiac regeneration in vivo, after cardiac injury. These data support the use of transient exposure to miR-203 as a general and single method to reset the epigenetic memory in PSCs, and improve their use in regenerative medicine.

Lab head

Marcos Malumbres
Department
  • Molecular Oncology Programme
About Marcos Malumbres
  • Cell cycle, mitosis, microRNAs. Molecular and Cell Biology. Cancer Biology. Breast Cancer. Pluripotency

Members (10)

Mónica Alvarez-Fernández
  • Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas
Begoña Hurtado
  • Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas
Carolina Villarroya-Beltri
  • Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas
José González-Martínez
  • Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas
Beatriz Salvador
  • Cardiff University
Elisabeth Zapatero-Solana
  • Centro Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas
Aicha El Bakkali
  • Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas
María Maroto
  • Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Oncológicas
Diego Martínez-Alonso
Diego Martínez-Alonso
  • Not confirmed yet
Belén Sanz-Castillo
Belén Sanz-Castillo
  • Not confirmed yet

Alumni (35)

Robert Benezra
Robert Benezra
Ignacio Perez de Castro
  • Instituto de Salud Carlos III
Marta Gómez de Cedrón
  • Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies
Guillermo de Cárcer
  • Institute for Biomedical Research “Alberto Sols“